I had the luxury this past year to get out and explore Eastern Oregon and Nevada for observing locations. My extended family lives in Las Vegas, so I made several trips by vehicle and hauled the gear and tents with me to see what I could find, and I purposely diverted further Eastward in Oregon to have a look at a few spots. I was rewarded with several great locations for adventurers with time and hunger to get to really dark skies. Other unexpected treats were in store as well.
The Milankovitch theory identified three aspects of Earth’s orbital motion as causes of the Ice Age glacial periods and the cyclical long term climate change: (1) the changing shape of Earth’s orbit from more circular to more elliptical; (2) cyclical changes in the “tilt” of Earth’s axis of rotation (axial tilt and precession) which affect the amount of solar radiation received by each hemisphere; and (3) the first two aspects acting together to determine where along Earth’s orbit maximum and minimum levels of solar radiation are received. These orbital cycles have always affected Earth’s climate by controlling the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth.
Once again, I’ve received an email from a member of the public with a heart-rending story. Someone has purchased a star name as a gift to someone they love, or in remembrance of someone who has passed away. They write to me to say they can’t find that star and ask me how to find it. Then once again I am tasked with informing a loving and well-meaning person that they’ve been scammed.
Scientists are wading through a trove of data from Saturn and its moons thanks to the discoveries of the Cassini spacecraft, which was intentionally plunged into Saturn's atmosphere in September. Launched in 1997, Cassini reached the Saturn system in 2004 after gravitationally slingshotting around Venus, Earth, and Jupiter. The spacecraft's 12 instruments collected data that revealed oceans of liquid methane on the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and helped scientists measure the length of a Saturn day, a long-standing mystery.
The eclipse has come with much fanfare and now it’s over. We’ve invested so much eager anticipation, hard work and excitement into seeing this one that now we’re left wondering what to do next. Here are some ideas:
Process and upload your images. They can go on our Forum, on our Facebook page, in our 2018 calendar and to our Communications Officer, Paul, for use on our website in the future. Also, Dawn is collecting images for a slide show for our September general meeting.
Donate your undamaged solar glasses. At the September meeting, we’ll have a large box to collect used solar glasses. We’ll send them to our friends at Astronomers Without Borders who will donate them to schools and clubs in South American for the 2019 eclipse going over Chile and Argentina.
by RCA Member Teela Bright The day started out early as I woke up around 3:00 am, thinking of my incredible luck in having my name drawn by RCA for such a spectacular event — reviewing in my mind the smiles and amazing support I have had from RCA, knowing in my heart that they would all be with me during this flight, and then some — and knowing I have been blessed with perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see something so amazing and beautiful.
RCA is working together with our friends at Portland Audubon to raise awareness about light pollution. On September 15 turn off your non-essential lights from dusk to dawn, and then to go outside and check out the night sky! Iconic buildings all around Portland will be going lights out to raise awareness about light pollution, including the Fox Tower, the Wells Fargo Tower, OMSI, Bonneville Power Administration, 200 Market, the 911 Federal Building, Montgomery Park, Holladay Park, City of Portland buildings, and 1201 Lloyd! The Lloyd EcoDistrict is cosponsoring the launch event with their own district effort: LightsOut Lloyd PDX.
RCA Volunteers shared their time, telescopes and knowledge with over 1,000 people at the OMSI viewing party for the total eclipse in Salem, OR on August 21. Volunteers showed up Saturday afternoon to help set up and many slept overnight in the gravel lot of the Oregon State Fair Grounds to be ready for Monday’s early morning. With 14 wonderful volunteers, there were many activities to engage the attendees of the event. There were 7 telescopes set up for public viewing of the sun and Venus. There was also an eclipse diagram provided by Robin Baker, an RCA astro-photography display and an Oregon roadmap showing path of totality by Paul Salvatore. Lastly, there were activities for kids of all ages that included UV bead bracelets, moon phase wheels, and solar eclipse word searches.
Many thanks to Robin Baker, Paula Frenchen, Yara Green, Bob Hansen (from sister club in Vancouver, BC), Robert Nelson and family, Mario and Maria Pedraza, Marc Singleton, April South, Mike Sutherland, and Do and Uyen Tran for their enthusiasm and generosity on such a spectacular occasion.
It was billed as the “great American” eclipse, but I’d rather call it the “great global eclipse.” One of my pleasures on Eclipse Day was meeting Graham and Margaret Duhig, members of BDAA, the British Deaf Astronomical Association. I spent the night before the eclipse at a small hotel downtown so I would wake up in the morning close to the train station. When I checked in, I noticed a senior couple signing to each other. The next day as I checked out at 5:15 a.m., the hotel clerk told me I had just missed sharing a taxi with the English astronomers who were here to see the eclipse. When I got to the train station, they were there, so I introduced myself and gave them a card from RCA. They showed me a picture of their group and gave me their contact information. We shared a train ride down and they set up near the capitol steps for the event. There’s more to the story, but I’ll end it by saying I encourage you to visit their website and friend or like them on Facebook.